p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;"span style="box-sizing: border-box; line-height: inherit !important; font-size: inherit !important; color: inherit !important; font-family: inherit !important; background: transparent !important; font-weight: bolder;"em style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; display: inline; vertical-align: middle;"Warning: span style="box-sizing: border-box; text-decoration: line-through;"Offspring abuse. /spanDrugging./em/span/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;"em style="box-sizing: border-box;"span style="box-sizing: border-box; line-height: inherit !important; font-size: inherit !important; color: inherit !important; font-family: inherit !important; background: transparent !important; font-weight: 700 !important;":::/span/em/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""Oswith, darling," our mother greeted with a sigh as she draped herself on his lap. "Our boys are simply clueless. How could they exist beneath the same roof of such a coveted alpha like Vis Sepherus and not manage to claim him completely? It was a miracle that he so much as took notice of a male omega in the first place. I heard his last relationship was with a woman..."/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;"How had she found out about Lene? I barely managed to get so much as her name out of Emery. And I had been living with them for over a month by that point! Who was the source of her information?/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""Does Vis Sepherus no longer want him?" Oswith questioned./p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""Of course he does," I responded without thinking. Our father's cold blue eyes glanced my way./p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""Have you lost all respect for us in only two months?" He growled. "How is it that we've had to hear from Sepherus's beta rabble that you were Favored by Dawn?"/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;"Beta rabble?/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""That only just happened yesterday morning," Owin cut in. "How did you find out so fast? And just how did you know I was in the estate?"/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""Do you really believe that a letter can't be easily intercepted?" Rina Edesia questioned. "It was only a matter of time before your little brother tried to contact you. Rhyad would never tell em style="box-sizing: border-box;"us /emyour whereabouts, but I knew you wouldn't leave without giving him some inkling as to where you've gone."/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;"Was that why they really had me go to the estate? To wait for me to lure my brother there? Our parents couldn't possibly have known that I'd contact him. I was unsure of ever contacting him at all until my Progression hit. Or, had they expected that he'd seek me out, regardless?/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""Tell me who your informant is right now," Owin insisted. "If I'm Vis Sepherus's Intended, it will be a sandy day in the Azure before I allow one of his staff members to continue ratting him out."/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""That's what I like to hear," our father praised. "The drive to gain control over your own territory. The staff member is insignificant; a mere river wyvern named Arrol. But, your interest surely means that you're ready to claim Sepherus in two days..."/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""What? No!" Owin retorted. "I accept that we're Intendeds, and I am more open to the idea of living with him than I was before, but I'm still not ready to claim and be claimed by Sepherus during a Troth Season!"/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""Don't be a coward," Oswith hissed. "Being claimed is merely the means to an end. It's the title and land that's important. You're not going to find a better match when you reach forty years of age."/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""And you, Rhyad?" Rina prompted as she caught my gaze. "This Troth Season is quite promising for a Dawn omega. Are you ready to draw in a strong and powerful alpha?"/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""I d-don't want to attend this Troth Season, either. I have s-someone else in mind..." I barely managed to respond./p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""Oh?" She questioned. "Is it an alpha we know, or do you have your sight set on Sepherus, as well?"/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;"I shook my head. "I want to become em style="box-sizing: border-box;"Eld Emery's/em Intended," I admitted./p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;"Our parents shared a glance. "A Dusk beta?" Oswith snorted. "That may have been a decent match when you were still a beta. But, not now. Dawn omegas can draw in the most powerful alphas without even trying."/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""Be that as it may, I still prefer Eld Emery."/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""em style="box-sizing: border-box;"Why in the name of Azure are our sons such idiots/em!?" The head of the Edesia family huffed as he threw his arms in the air./p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""Darling, calm down..." Rina cooed as she stroked his arm. "Boys, go to your room while your father and I talk."/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;"Owin and I didn't need to be told twice. We rushed to our old room so fast that we nearly crashed into one another on the way. As I gently closed the door behind us, I caught sight of Owin flopping face down onto his bed. I expected to see a cloud of dust surrounding him from disuse, but our mother must have ordered the room cleaned for our return./p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""Do they want to live our lives em style="box-sizing: border-box;"for/em us while they're at it? It's ridiculous!" He groaned./p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""At least they seem to be taking us more seriously than usual," I pointed out. "I don't know if it's because the em style="box-sizing: border-box;"Edesias/em are desperate to have us participate in the Troth Season, though..."/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""Pssh. Tough for them," Owin replied. "We're not going anywhere other than back to the estate. Seph told me how his sister Kasia played the lyre, and he used to sing for her. I heard from some of the staff that Seph has a good singing voice."/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""So, that lyre belonged to Kasia? It all makes sense now," I mused aloud. "And I'm sure you don't have to convince him to sing. He likes singing."/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""You sure know a lot about my Intended," Owin complained with a pout. "Are you sure it's not Seph you want instead of the Eld?"/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;"I shook my head. "Owin, I don't like Sepherus the same way you do. I may have em style="box-sizing: border-box;"thought/em it was the type of 'like' that was meant for Intended mates, but I was wrong." My mind drifted to the look in Emery's lavender eyes before we left the estate, and I lifted a hand to my stuttering heart. "I've never felt this way about anyone before. I want so badly to be by Emery's side."/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;"Owin's face shifted into a playful grin. "Look at us, Rhy-fry. Wasn't it only yesterday when the two of us found more and more creative ways to escape from alphas?"/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""em style="box-sizing: border-box;"You /emwere the one escaping from alphas. I only tried to keep them distracted," I countered. "I wanted to be Favored by the moon. I wanted nothing more than to be just like you. I knew that one day, an alpha would win over your heart, and I'd be left alone..."/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""We've only been apart for two months, and I came running when I saw your letter," the golden-eyed omega responded. "Nothing can ever really keep us apart. Not even Intended mates." Owin draped an arm over my shoulders. "Besides, if we do really end up with Seph and the Eld, we'll be downright neighbors, won't we?"/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""You're right," I replied, unable to mask the surprise in my voice. "The Vesper estate is right next to the Tehran estate. That would be wonderful."/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""em style="box-sizing: border-box;"Boys/em!" Our mother called from the door. "em style="box-sizing: border-box;"Open the door for me/em."/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;"I rushed to do just that and saw that she was balancing a tray with a teapot and on it. The scent was soft and mixed. She walked over to set it down on a small table in our room before turning towards us./p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""While your father and I disagree with your decisions, we will discuss it further with Vis Sepherus and Eld Emery present," Rina Edesia declared. "I made you both some tea, so you don't have to wander into the kitchen. Your father and I will be there all night talking about your prospects." She paused on her way out the door. "Try to get some rest."/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""Our own tea? That's a first," Owin snorted as he poured out two cups for us. "She must really not want us in the kitchen."/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""Do you think they'll actually invite Seph and Em?" I wondered./p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""That's what it sounds like. I don't care what they say," my brother affirmed. "I refuse to be rushed, and you shouldn't be rushed, either."/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""Agreed, Owin-twin," I stated as the two of us gently clinked our cups in camaraderie. As I lifted the cup to my lips, I caught the faintest hint of a familiar scent. It wasn't until I took the first sip that I recognized what it was./p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;""Concentrated Mialat!" My eyes widened, and I held out a hand towards Owin. "Don't gulp!"/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;"The last thing I saw was Owin spitting the tea back into the cup before the edges of my vision filled with black./p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;"::::/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;"em style="box-sizing: border-box;"Rhyad.../em/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;"'em style="box-sizing: border-box;"Rhyad!'/em/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;"When I opened my eyes, my line of vision was expanded. I craned my neck to see that my brother was in his winged form. He was pacing at the edge of a clearing. As I moved, I realized that I was in my winged form, as well. Owin's coral scales with gold, swirly patterns were easy to make out even at night. But, as I glanced down at myself, I realized that my pale scales stood out in the darkness even more./p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;"'No, get back down!' Owin huffed in Kedoran. 'You stick out way more than I do right now. Stay behind that shrubbery.'/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;"'Why are we in our winged forms? Where are we?' I asked him./p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;"'I don't know what was in that tea, but it knocked us out for more than a day.'/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;"He then pointed to a massive leaf full of water. It, too, was hidden behind the shrubs. I suspected the plants to be a variation of arborvitae and the leaf to be a severed water lily. The panic seemed to seep off my older brother. Thinking of my botany studies helped me not to match that level of panic. I quickly drank what I could of the water. Though the thirst was quenched, the hunger made itself known. I tried my best to ignore it as I lifted my gaze back to my pacing brother./p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;"'Owin, where em style="box-sizing: border-box;"are /emweem style="box-sizing: border-box;"?' /emI asked again; though I had a bad feeling I knew what his answer would be./p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;"'Isn't it obvious? We're in the woods where the Troth Season is supposed to kick off,' he ranted as he continued to pace. 'Worse yet, our em style="box-sizing: border-box;"loving /emparents dropped our unconscious selves on the wide, open field in front of us for any flying alphas to see. As if we don't already stick out well enough with our bright colors!'/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;"'We can try heading back before the gathering begins-'/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;"'It's too late for that. I already caught a few alphas circling above like vultures. Who knows how many are already out there.'/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;"'We can stay hidden! If they can't see us-'/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;"'They can smell us. They can smell em style="box-sizing: border-box;"you /emespecially.'/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;"'Me?'/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;"'Rhyad, you're not just in em style="box-sizing: border-box;"heat; /emyou're a em style="box-sizing: border-box;"Dawn omega/em in heat.'/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;"As I took in a deep breath, I realized the truth of those words. Owin was close, and I was able to detect his scent if I focused on it. However, my own scent was downright overpowering. It lingered on the shrub and on the water lily I just drank from./p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;"'em style="box-sizing: border-box;"Rutting riots in the Azure!'/em/p
p style="box-sizing: border-box; width: 984.539px; line-height: inherit !important; background-color: inherit !important; margin: 0px 0px 1.1em !important 0px;" /p